MadFriars' Interview: Donn Roach

WASHINGTON, DC - RHP Donn Roach, 24, was drafted in the third round by the Los Angeles in 2010 and was part of a trade along with Alexi Amarista for Ernesto Frieri in 2012.

In high school Roach was a high school teammate of Bryce Harper at Bishop Gorman High School and was part of teams that won three state championships. After a year at the University of Arizona he returned to Las Vegas, and played his last year collegiately with the College of Southern Nevada, a junior college that plays in one of the few wooden bat leagues in college baseball.

Upon joining the Padres he pitched very well in Lake Elsinore with a 5-1 mark and 44 strikeouts against only 11 walks in 46.2 innings. Last year in San Antonio was an up and down season with a poor first half, 4.40 ERA, followed by a much better second half, with a 2.66 ERA.

This season Roach was able to make the Padres out of spring training as a long reliever. We caught up with him before the second game of the Padres-National series.

In San Antonio you had a rough first half last year but pitched much better in the second half. What were your expectations coming into the season?

Donn Roach:Just trying to build off of what I did in the second half. I got on a little bit of a role and was able to clean some things up.

What was some of the stuff that you figured out?

Donn Roach: Just trying to not overthrow too much because when I did the ball comes up. I had to get the confidence to trust my stuff more.

So much of your game is about keeping the ball down and getting ground ball outs. Is that what started to not happen when the ball was rising?

Donn Roach: That among other things, but yes, the ball does come up sometimes and that is when I get in trouble.

Coming into the spring did you think you had an outside shot of making the major league roster?

Donn Roach: No, I wasn't expecting it at all especially with all of the pitching depth that we have up here and in the organization. So, yes, I was really happy to get this opportunity.

One thing that always amazes me is that it is so tough to make it and most of you guys find some particular niche to succeed in. For you it was as a starter and you come up to the big leagues it's in long relief. How tough is that?

Donn Roach: I've always been told its a game of adjustments and I've been brought up that you have to make them as quickly as possible or you aren't going to make it.

I just think that it is part of the game.

What do you throw is it more of a sinker or a two-seamer? Because I know some pitchers make a distinction between the two.

Donn Roach: It's a sinker but you know in reality it is the same thing. You know, it drops [laughs]. I know but some pitchers make a big deal out of the differences [aughs].

Donn Roach: True, but whether it is a sinker or a two-seamer I want it to drop. I throw a sinker, curveball and a split.

It sounds like you didn't really make any adjustments other than just tightening some things up?

Donn Roach: I started to mix in the cutter a little bit more so batters wouldn't stay on the sinker when I was starting, but yes, it was mainly just tightening up some things.

Right now though since I'm not going through a lineup multiple times I'm not throwing the cutter as much.

What is the biggest change you have seen with big league hitters as compared to minor league hitters?

Donn Roach: They sure don't swing at that many balls [laughs]. It is really the same here as it was in the minors. You have to execute and make your pitches because if you don't it's just not going to be good.

There are a few times when you make a good pitch and they still hit it and you have to deal with it.

How do you balance between trying to stay more aggressive and not catching too much of the strike zone?

Donn Roach: That is one of the things that I was dealing with last year. It is a fine line. You want to be aggressive in the zone but they have to be quality pitches. You make a mistake in the zone and they are going to bounce it off one of the outfield walls.

A lot of it is just trusting yourself. You know its in you, just have to do it. You can only worry about what you can control.

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